By Casey O’Brien - Freshman, Tamalpais High School

You can’t think straight and your mind is scattered. The amount of things you have to do lay on top of you like a weight, heavy and unwieldy. Every free minute seems sucked up, and you feel like you are suffocating. You have a project due the next day, and you have to finish it. It seems endless—despite how hard you are working, you feel only half done.

Sound familiar? Probably, to most of you, this feeling has happened dozens of times; we call it stress. We accept it as just an aspect of life, just part of being human. But sometimes, what feels like stress may actually be something else.

Feeling this way all the time, not being able to relax, is not just stress. It is something different, a mental health challenge that can be helped. It is called General Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, and it affects more than six million people in the United States. GAD is a real disorder with real treatment, not just an inability to control stress. Anxiety and stress are related, but different. Anxiety is a specific feeling of fear and worry, and stress includes a broader range of feelings, like pain or irritability.